Texas halts reopening as USA virus cases soar

Grant Boone
June 27, 2020

"As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the state of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19", Abbott said in a Friday statement.

Texas restaurants are struggling under the current rules of 75% capacity and were glad Abbott didn't roll the state back to previous restrictions, said Anna Tauzin, chief revenue and innovation officer of the Texas Restaurant Association.

In addition to bar closures, Abbott, a Republican, said restaurants will be required to return to 50 percent capacity, local governments will be given more authority to regulate gatherings of more than 100 people and rafting and tubing operators along popular rivers will close.

"The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses, " he wrote in a Thursday press release, but the "pause will help our state corral the spread".

The development comes as Texas, the USA state with the second largest population, continues to report record increases in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

The clampdown came after the state's positive test rate surged to 11.7 percent Thursday.

The pullback was a significant compromise by Abbott who has long said he wanted Texas to be fully opened by the 4th of July.

As the number of new COVID-19 cases have reached record highs, Texas and Florida today ordered bars cease on-premise operations.

In Texas, where Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to visit Sunday for an indoor "Celebrate Freedom" event at a 14,000-member Dallas megachurch, the governor also closed bars and limited restaurant capacity to 50% on Friday.

Congo announces end to 2nd-largest Ebola outbreak on record
It was days away from declaring an end to the epidemic when new cases were detected, pushing back the gains made. The outbreak was the country's tenth Ebola outbreak and the second largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Texas is one of at least 32 states in which coronavirus cases continue to rise.

State officials said the targeted, measured directives in the order are based on links between certain types of businesses and services and the recent rise in positive cases throughout the state.

"The rate of the spread of this virus is unacceptable and it is time for us to step up our actions and our personal responsibilities regarding this virus", he said.

Three northeastern states that made significant progress beating back the pandemic - New York, New Jersey and CT - on Wednesday urged visitors arriving from U.S. hotspots such as Texas, Florida and Alabama to quarantine themselves. The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and enhance public health.

Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday implored residents to take more precautions, including staying home except when necessary and wearing face masks in public.

Tampa bartender Colleen Corbett said she is anxious about being unemployed again, but thinks the state's action is "the right move since no one could follow the guidelines and everyone was getting sick".

The Texas governor issues a new executive order closing bars and reducing restaurant capacity as ICU beds fill up in cities; Casey Stegall reports.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that he still doesn't plan to issue a statewide order requiring masks.

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